Here comes trouble

05-07-16 News Photo; David White/Fairfax. Rachel Stewart, Award winning columnist, photographed on her property near Whanganui
Rachel Stewart, award winning columnist, on her property near Whanganui Photo: David White/Fairfax

An outspoken lesbian columnist who has received death threats from angry farmers is the guest speaker at the next Wintec Press Club free lunch extravaganza in Hamilton.

Rachel Stewart, judged columnist of the year at the 2016 Canon Media Awards, will address an invite-only crowd at the event on November 11.

“It will be a no holds barred speech, because that’s how I roll,” said the Taranaki-based columnist. “I’ll be talking about my love of  falconry, guns, hunting, and my childhood down on the farm. Then about my hatred of dirty dairying and other subjects which make me despair of our planet’s chances of surviving the manifest stupidities of the human race.”

Press Club life president Steve Braunias said he was delighted that Stewart accepted his invitation to speak.

“She’s like a cult figure,” he said. “She has an avid following. She inspires and she provokes. She enrages and she educates. She’s unlike anyone writing in New Zealand today.

“Who else would write a column headlined, ‘No predator is more dangerous than the human male’? Who else would write a column about their former job as a train driver who witnessed the carnage that happens when a train hits a car?

“She’s a very direct person who is capable of saying anything. I’m deeply afraid of her to be honest. But I look forward to Rachel sharing her views and speaking her mind  at Press Club. We’re honoured to have her.”

Stewart will speak for about 30 minutes at the luncheon, followed by a Q + A session.

Previous speakers at the most famous public event in New Zealand journalism have included Sir Paul Holmes, Paula Penfold, Patrick Gower, Robyn Malcolm and Dave Dobbyn.

The Wintec Press Club is staged on behalf of journalism students at Wintec’s School of Media Arts. An invite-only audience of about 100 regularly features the biggest names in New Zealand journalism as well as politicians, entrepreneurs, sports personalities, entertainers, and TV presenters.

Lorde came to the Press Club event in August this year to hear guest speaker Hera Lindsay Bird. The roll-call of other guests in the past few years has included Joe Karam, Rachel Glucina, Guy Williams, Winston Peters, Guyon Espiner and Sarah Ulmer.

The November 11 event will also feature the traditional end of year awards, such as the Wintec Press Club Best Writer in New Zealand Award, and a new award, the Wintec Press Club Alumni of the Year award, which will recognise an outstanding former student.

There will also be a meat raffle.

The 12-2pm lunch is invite only, and will be held at the Ferrybank restaurant and convention centre in Grantham St, on the banks of the Waikato River in downtown Hamilton.

Venetia Sherson, former editor of the Waikato Times, founded the Wintec Press Club in 2004.